At last, we have clarity on Leaving Cert 2021. Students can opt to not sit the exams and receive Accredited Grades, sit the exams only, or (and this has been my preferred option), opt to combine both. Here is why I think the third option is a win/win.
Opting for combined exam/accredited grades is to me the best of all worlds. You have nothing to lose and all to gain. Having a exam to aim for will keep you focused, so class tests will go well for you. Revision means that you can go over areas that you may not have done so well in before which may be reflected in your accredited grade. Sitting the exam gives you a chance to improve.
There really is no downside to sitting the exam. If the only thing you wrote on the paper was your exam number, you will still receive the same accredited grade. But what if when you open that paper the questions suited you so perfectly you would swear that you had set the exam yourself?
You have the chance to improve on your grade with no impact whatsoever on the accredited grade that you will receive regardless. Imagine how gutted you may feel if you don’t sit the exam and find that you would have easily done it. Sitting the exam could be the difference that makes the difference.
This year’s Leaving Certs have had it tough. They were side-lined last year as everyone grappled with the reality of the pandemic. They have flip-flopped between physical and remote teaching and have been caught in the middle of wrangling between the Department and teaching unions.
The Leaving Cert 2021 is more than just an exam. It is a rite of passage and pathway to careers. I really think that opting to sit the exam and get accredited grade allows the best of all worlds to students. For the student who depends on cramming to improve their grade, they can still cram and sit the exam. For the student who has a brain freeze on the day of the exam, they will still get their accredited grade. The student who sits the exam and comes out feeling that they didn’t do so well, may find that they did better than they thought.
Previously the Leaving Cert exam was equitable in that every student anonymously sits the same exam, but I believe that Leaving Cert 2021 has the potential to be the fairest as well. In fact, I suggest that this year’s Fifth Year students should galvanise, organise, and demand that as their fifth year was also interrupted, Leaving Cert 2022 should give them the same if not better options. Perhaps the future of the Leaving Cert is already here.
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